Staff at breaking point over panic buying

Footage has emerged of yet another stoush over toilet paper inside our supermarkets, this time between a Coles employee and a customer.

It comes as major supermarkets continue to take steps to protect their staff from abusive shoppers caught up in panic buying.

In the video, which was shared on Coles' Facebook page by an onlooker, a female staff member can be seen standing on a pallet handing out toilet paper to customers.

A male customer refuses requests from another staff member to leave the supermarket and continues to badger the employee handing out toilet paper.

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The man ignored requests to leave the store and continued to ask who the staff member was giving the large packs of toilet paper to. Picture: Facebook
The man ignored requests to leave the store and continued to ask who the staff member was giving the large packs of toilet paper to. Picture: Facebook

"Answer my question please … who is the big one for?" he asks.

"Just get out … I am being fair by giving it out randomly," the female staff member replies.

But the man refuses to leave, accusing her of "not being fair".

"If you were a man I going (sic) to smash your face," he said.

"Get out! Get out, you piece of sh*t!" the staff member screams, before the man is escorted away by a security guard.

The employee returns to handing out the toilet paper, telling the next customer: "Sorry, I've lost my temper."

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The staff member responded by telling the man to ‘get out’. Picture: Facebook
The staff member responded by telling the man to ‘get out’. Picture: Facebook

In response to the incident, a Coles spokeswoman told news.com.au: "Coles team members and suppliers have been working as hard as possible delivering more products to stores every day and stocking shelves as quickly as possible.

"We ask for customers to continue to respect, show compassion and support our team members in stores and our Customer Care and Coles Online call centres, particularly if a product is unavailable or if the checkout queues are longer than normal."

The spokeswoman added that while the store had "significantly increased" the number of staff working in its stores it was "actively recruiting" for 5000 more staff members.

"All available store support team members are also helping our teams in store to replenish and serve our customers during this challenging time," they said.

Two women were arrested over this incident at a Woolworths in Chullora. Picture: Twitter
Two women were arrested over this incident at a Woolworths in Chullora. Picture: Twitter

"We are constantly reviewing security measures to manage the unprecedented levels of customer demand in our stores."

It's not the first loo roll-related fracas to break out in supermarkets. Earlier this month a mother and daughter were charged with affray over a fight over toilet paper in a Woolworths in the Sydney suburb of Chullora.

A man also had to be tasered by police in the northern NSW town of Tamworth after a fight over toilet paper broke out in a Big W.

'ZERO TOLERANCE' FOR AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR

Coles isn't the only supermarket experiencing aggressive behaviour towards its store employees.

Woolworths stores across the country have posted signs revealing there is "zero tolerance" for bad behaviour towards their staff.

Woolworths has posted these signs around their stores. Picture: Twitter
Woolworths has posted these signs around their stores. Picture: Twitter

"Aggressive and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated," the sign reads. "Our team is here to help, not to be hurt."

In a statement a spokesperson for Woolworths said the supermarket was "grateful" for its employees' work "during these busy and challenging times".

"The vast majority of customers have been respectful and understanding in our stores, and we appreciate their patience," the statement said.

"We ask all shoppers to remain calm in our stores and treat our team with respect as they work hard to support our local communities.

"The safety of our team members is our top priority and we will not tolerate abusive or violent behaviour towards them in any circumstance."

Aldi has taken a similar stance, with its CEO Tom Daunt saying this morning the store is "continuing to take steps to ensure our staff remain comfortable serving customers".

"The increase in violence that retailers have seen over the past few weeks is absolutely unacceptable," he said.

"We would ask everyone to be considerate and compassionate in the way they shop.

"This means civil behaviour, courtesy to those less able and respect for the employees of retail outlets. Quite frankly, we won't tolerate anything less."

As part of the supermarket's crack down on abusive customers, Mr Daunt revealed all Aldi stores now had "new conditions of entry".

These rules state shoppers need to be "kind, be calm, be empathetic and most of all be courteous" as well as "respect our employees and their physical space". It also warned police would be called on those who did not uphold the conditions.

"We remind you that we will not accept any violent behaviour (verbal or physical) in or around our stores and the police will be called immediately if required," he added.

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Woolworths is introducing a temporary dedicated shopping hour to help protect elderly and disabled people from chaotic panic buying. Picture: Rohan Kelly
Woolworths is introducing a temporary dedicated shopping hour to help protect elderly and disabled people from chaotic panic buying. Picture: Rohan Kelly

PANIC BUYING CONTINUES

The panic buying in supermarkets is showing no signs of slowing despite assurances that Australian food supplies are not at risk because of the coronavirus pandemic.

While demand first started with toilet paper, it has now spread to pasta, rice, tissues, frozen vegetables and mince.

This morning Coles announced it would be introducing even tougher new buying restrictions on certain items, with customers now limited to two packs of eggs, chilled pasta, frozen vegetables and frozen dessert.
Coles has also temporary suspended its online shopping service to anyone other than the vulnerable and isolated, while Woolworths will close all its stores early on Wednesday evening to try and replenish stock.

Woolworths has placed a further limit on online orders closing off its two-hour delivery window. This is a swifter window which customers pay extra for.

This weekend, the company also suspended all supermarket pick-up click and collect services nationwide.

Woolworths has "temporarily paused" its online delivery in parts of Victoria except for areas of Melbourne serviced by its centre in West Footscray.


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